For Dez Bryant to be considered great, he has to make the big catch

Posted Sunday, Sep. 15, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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engel . No one was in the mood to bag on Dez Bryant, nor should they, but here is the unfair truth — he has to make that catch.

If Dez wants to be as good as he thinks he is, and as good as people such as Michael Irvin believes he can be, the type of drop that he had in the fourth quarter at Arrowhead Stadium have to be permanently eliminated from his résumé.

Until he does, he is not there.

Dez Bryant is far from the reason his team lost on Sunday 17-16 against the Kansas City Chiefs, but he knows he should have been the reason they won.

If Bryant is not playing the following play repeatedly in his head, which he is, it will be on a loop on every highlight show in the world:

With 9:03 remaining in the game, Bryant broke free of Chiefs cornerback Brandon Flowers. Tony Romo’s pass cleared Flowers, and dropped perfectly into Bryant’s hands around midfield where he promptly dropped it.

“I knew I had it. That’s what I was thinking,” Bryant said after the game. “Took my eyes off the ball. Shouldn’t have. That was a real bad mistake. That is not winning football. I can’t win like that. I can’t beat the guy and be nonchalant with the football.”

If Bryant makes that catch, and what most assuredly would have been a long run, the NFL is talking about how Dez had his 2013 breakout game. That he followed up his Week 1 decoy act against the New York Giants with the type of production his team needs, and so many of us expect.

“He had a heck of a ballgame and got free one more time,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “We felt the throw was there and had the opportunity to make that play, but we just didn’t finish it.”

This is Coach Process speak for — he has to catch it.

Instead of talking about what should have been a double-digit catch afternoon, and the one monster diving reception he had in the first quarter, the only one we will all talk about is the one that glanced off his finger tips.

“They all drop ’em,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. “I wouldn’t blame a loss on a single drop. I know it’s easy to do. You say what might have been. Dez played an outstanding game. Couldn’t ask more from him.”

Statistically, Jerry is right. Nine catches for 141 yards and a TD should be enough. Inside the game, however, the Cowboys have no choice but to ask more from Dez because that play was in the man’s hands.

No one is blaming Dez’s drop for the Cowboys’ inevitable return to the S.S. .500, a defense that forced zero turnovers and couldn’t stop the run on the final drive, a quarterback whose accuracy was awful in the end, both had a say.

What is undeniable is that potential Dez catch would have changed the day in the team’s favor. That’s why you drafted him — to make that play.

The Cowboys had other chances after that drop, and Bryant made a few more plays, but a 60-minute game offers only a precious few opportunities to change the entire game. Dez had it, and he blew it.

That one drop effectively erased what was a Pro Bowl performance. Four of the Cowboys’ 10 longest plays came from Dez, the longest being that’s-a-bad-man diving catch of 53 yards in the first quarter.

In an effort to give him an out, I asked Dez after the game that aside from The Drop if this was the type of performance he can provide every week.

“I’m sorry, but I can’t answer that question,” he said.

This is the ideal answer in less-than-ideal circumstances. The Drop ruined his day.

After that drop, and drive, the Cowboys had another possession where, for some reason, Romo locked in on his BFF Jason Witten despite what appeared to be favorable coverage from the Chiefs. Never looked his way on a pair of passes. And on three plays Dez removed himself before he returned.

“I got sorta banged up,” he said, but would not specify what the problem was.

Dez has 14 more games to prove it was just a drop. Fourteen more games to provide more catches like the one he had in the first quarter than the one he didn’t in the fourth.

It’s a double standard, because no one is going to catch ’em all, but there are certain ones he simply can’t drop.

Mac Engel, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @MacEngelProf

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